‘I think in that situation, the fan was out of line with what he said to Russ,’ says LeBron James
Published 3:05 PM, March 15, 2019
Updated 3:07 PM, March 15, 2019
RESPECT. LeBron James says at the end of the day, it’s all about respect. Photo by Patrick Smith/Getty Images/AFP
MANILA, Philippines – LeBron James backed Russell Westbrook after the Oklahoma City Thunder star figured in an expletive-laden confrontation with a Utah Jazz fan.
James, who described Westbrook as “one of the most down to earth guys” he knows, said the fan was “out of line” as the 2017 NBA MVP got subjected to racial abuse.
On Tuesday, March 12, the Jazz permanently banned the fan identified as Shane Keisel from their arena, citing “excessive and derogatory verbal abuse.” (WATCH: Jazz ban fan for life, but Westbrook also fined $25,000 over bust-up)
“I think in that situation, the fan was out of line with what he said to Russ,” said James. “There comes a point where it’s about respect. The only thing we’ve got in life is respect, at the end of the day.”
“That guy crossed the line and it was funny that he tried to back track and say what he didn’t do, when they interviewed him,” added the Lakers superstar.
Westbrook was seen angrily swearing at the fan during the Thunder’s 98-89 win over the Jazz last Monday. (WATCH: Russell Westbrook revives beef with Utah Jazz fans)
“The young man and his wife in the stands told me to get down on my knees like you used to,” Westbrook said.
“And for me that is completely disrespectful. I think it is racial. It is inappropriate.”
Keisel denied using a racist remark, saying he said, “sit down and ice your knees.”
On Thursday, Utah Jazz owner Gail Miller spoke to the crowd and said they’re “not a racist community.” She also requested the Jazz fans to show the “highest standard of decency” in an emotional speech. (READ: Jazz owner: ‘We are not a racist community’)
“[The] guy is one of the most loyal people that I know, one of the most down to earth guys that I know,” James said of Westbrook. “That guy just took it too far.
“There could’ve been some words Russ could’ve said a little bit differently. But at the end of the day, he was in the right and that guy was in the wrong.” – With a report from Agence France-Presse